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Never turn up to work hungry again.
Never turn up to work hungry again.
Never turn up to work hungry again.
Melbourne's obsession with weekend breakfasts is engrained in its identity. But during the week it's sometimes overlooked in favour of a few more snoozes and a couple of extra minutes in a warm bed. We're all about those zzzs, but it's no excuse for skipping the most important meal of the day — especially if you work or study in the city. There is a whole slew of CBD cafes that open every day (save, say, Christmas Day and the apocalypse) before you've even arisen from your slumber, and they'll be ready to ply you with good food and even better coffee to start your morning.
So for the sake of nutrition, productivity, and your tastebuds, we've put together a list of the ten best spots for breakfast before you get locked into the weekday grind.
On the weekend, this cafe from the team behind Top Paddock and The Kettle Black usually requires a wait — which is exactly why you should tee-up a pre-work visit instead. The huge 160-seat warehouse venue on the corner of Little Bourke and Spencer Streets is impressive to say the least; a palette of exposed brick and green marble is spread across a multi-level space, which includes a raised area, an open kitchen, and a large mezzanine that holds couches, tables and its own bar. So it’s the perfect place to breakfast alone or even hold a meeting. The brunch menu is served up until 3pm and includes the likes of avo on toast, spiced cauliflower scrambled eggs, and even the famous Top Paddock ricotta hotcake.
Before running away from Cumulus Inc. assuming breakfast is going to gobble up the contents of your wallet, hold up. To most people’s surprise, breakfast options are reasonably priced. Cumulus’ European identity translates into its morning dishes, in the forms of house-made crumpets, bacon baps and blood sausage and bacon on toast with fried eggs. The Cumulus Inc. breakfast will get you a boiled egg, toast with jam, a pot of yogurt, plus an orange juice and a coffee or a tea — all for $18. The predominantly white interiors absorb oodles of morning light, sometimes enough to pull diners out of their Monday morning slumps. And if that doesn’t do it, order some madeleines with lemon curd — they’re baked to order.
Located on the corner of Flinders and Exhibition streets, this pastel-hued cafe is the perfect perch for watching peak hour traffic go by. It’s also a good spot for a top cup of coffee (the cafe’s own roast) and a quick brekkie. Vacation offers ‘home-style’ sandwiches, with fillings like wagyu pastrami with mustard, zucchini pickle and mayo, and turkey with alfalfa sprouts, avocado, tomato and chilli mayo. Other simple options include poached eggs with avocado, as well as your eternal favourite: Vegemite on toast. Ultimately though, coffee is the name of the game — the cafe doubles as a retail outlet where customers can purchase coffee not just by the cup, but by the bag.
For those in demanding jobs, it can be difficult to get your brain moving in the morning. If you think surrounding yourself with suspended bookshelves and pillars filled with pot plants will get things going, head down Flinders Lane to Journal. Simplicity is key at this restaurant, centred on classic breakfasts such as crumpets, croissants and a topped toasts. Plus, you can pick up wifi from the City Library.
Scott Pickett’s deli cafe at the Queen Vic Market is known for its meats and rotisserie chicken, but it also serves up brekkie every day of the week. To enjoy his most coveted spoils, order the bacon and egg roll with bacon that’s been slow-roasted overnight and then carved for your order, or the house-cured salmon served with eggs. Plus, in good news for anyone in the area on a Monday, the deli still opens despite the market being closed.
The line of vertical gardens mounted on the walls of Manchester Press is a refreshing sight so early in the morning. The cafe usually sings a hum of happy people plunked on retro chairs, enjoying their house-brewed coffee. The menu is centred around open and closed bagels, offering everything from blueberry bagels, to a Texan BBQ pulled pork variation.
White Mojo serves up one of the CBD’s more indulgent menus if you’re celebrating your birthday, have a particularly big deadline or, y’know, it’s a Tuesday. A few examples: the signature soft shell crab burger comes in a croissant, the burger is topped with foie gras and the “princess” hot cake is doused in dulce de leche. Alternatively you can order granola or eggs on toast — but you might find yourself with a bout of food envy.
Need a wake up call? Put yourself through to Operator25. Housed in an old, brick-walled telephone exchange building, Operator 25 serves some of the city’s most inventive breakfasts. Eggs are taken to the next level with the accompaniment of things like curried braised beans, or tapioca and potato fritters. The long communal tables could also mean you take a few colleagues for breakfast. Operator25 is an ideal detour for those hopping off at Flagstaff Station.
The bottom end of Flinders Lane is usually overshadowed by its significantly more impressive top end. However, there is The Grain Store, a spacious eatery offering homey, substantial breakfast dishes. The vibe at The Grain Store is exactly what it sounds like, and is similar to a farmhouse. Behind barn doors one will find servings of baked polenta porridge, pork and potato hash and passionfruit ricotta pancakes. If you’re totally rushed or want to get a group in, call ahead and book a table.
Most Melburnians are skeptical about combining chicken and waffles — and rightly so. But Bowery to Williamsburg hopes to destigmatise the classic breakfast dish from America’s south. An illuminated subway sign reading ‘Bowery to Williamsburg’ welcomes diners into the eatery and pays homage to the New York subway stations. Sandwiches are served with a pickle and pretzels to instantly transcend you to a New York deli, but the food is not restricted just to that of waffles — they also serve a range of shakshukas and some killer sandwiches come lunchtime. Those with a little more time can sit and enjoy a Reese’s cup with their coffee and breakfast, otherwise takeaway is available.
Inserted in the stream of apartments that form Niagara Lane is Sun Moth, an effortless eatery tucked away from the CBD’s morning noise. It’s a place of productivity; upon entry one will notice the substantial amount of laptop screens with people trying to finish last-minute work or study. They’ve got the right idea though — here you can work over coffee, French toast, eggs and fresh pies.
Even though it’s a coffee roaster, Hash is possibly best known for its novelty hot chocolate — that’s because it comes as a cup piled maybe 20-centimetres high with fairy floss which you then flatten by pouring a vat of 85 percent Mork hot chocolate over. You can still get a good cup of coffee here, though, and a solid breakfast. Bypass the smashed avo for bacon-filled croissants, corn and jalapeño fritters and sweet waffles. Hash is no hole-in-the-wall, and unlike other CBD cafes, there are more than just a handful of seats. A few communal high tables allow you to sit up at the Hardware Street windows, while more seating is tucked in behind the white-tiled coffee bar and counter.